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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

Symposium: training the dancer,   pp. [346]-[355] PDF (8.9 MB)


Page 352


The classes open to all students should stress
the development of the creativity of the indi-
vidual. In courses not directed toward specific
styles such as ballet, folk, ethnic, jazz, etc.
students should be guided toward finding the
movement possibilities of their own individual
structures rather than copying those demon-
strated by the teacher. It is this objective
that is most important for growth. In a society
that has not provided opportunities for appre-
ciation of the human body-its aesthetic quali-
ties, its potential as an instrument of imagina-
tion and expression-it is necessary for
persons to develop a self-directed and crea-
tive capacity for such expression. The build-
ing of technical skill is important but it is not
necessary to possess a high degree of move-
ment skill in order to express movement
ideas. With competent teaching (still a rarity)
beginners can simultaneously develop both
technical and creative skills. It is herein, I
believe, that dance has its educational value.
Is there a philosophy of dance education
today?
No, I do not believe there is one accepted
philosophy of dance education today, at least
none that a majority of people would sub-
scribe to. This is one of our problems as
dance educators. We need to get together to
find out what we believe and then to deter-
mine how we can best implement the best in
programs, instruction, and materials. Some
dance associations are attempting to do this.
The National Dance Association of the
AAHPER is in the process of developing posi-
tion statements, philosophies and curriculum
guides.
Should dance logically fall into physical
education or fine arts?
Dance can logically find a place in either
physical education or the arts since it has a
strong affinity to each. Dance in education
had its beginnings in and was nurtured by
physical education. It shares a common inter-
est in human movement and dance can benefit
from the knowledge gained by physical edu-
cators in their study of movement. There is
also some common methodology and values
shared between movement education and
dance education for children that should be
promoted to provide quality experiences for
all children. As an art form dance can, of
course, fall easily into fine arts and can bene-
fit from close relationships with other art
forms. Whether dance should be in one or the
other is not the question. In fact, that has
been hashed for so long that it has side
stepped the real issue which is: where can
dance find the best environment for its own
growth as a vital art-movement form? Dance
needs freedom to develop and the budget sup-
port to allow this to happen. This could be
provided by physical education, fine arts or
perhaps as a separate department not con-
nected to the other areas. Dance should take
advantage of the fact that it has affiliation with
both physical education and the arts and stop
wasting time and effort asking this same
question over and over again. When dancers
in education come to some understanding of
what and who they are then where they should
be will answer itself.
A recent study has highlighted the inflexibility
of music departments (most departments in
1972 did not teach courses in jazz, blues,
rock, etc.). Is dance in academe confronted
with similar problems?
It is possible that departments might become
inflexible, although I think the lack of variety
in programs has more to do with budget and
lack of faculty with the necessary expertise.
Would artist-in-residence programs help to
mitigate the dangers of insularity?
The artist-in-residence program is a good
idea. We have been doing this for several
years now and feel it brings in a freshness to
the program. Each semester at Wisconsin
we have a visiting dance artist who will teach
some of the advanced technique, composition
and repertory classes and, in general, the
experience has been valuable.
Should dance teachers be certified?
I believe dance teachers should be certified
with the hope that this would improve the
quality of teaching and content. To attempt
this poses great problems, however. Who
should be the certifying agency, who sets up
the criteria, etc? Also, it would only be one
step toward upgrading dance education. The
National Dance Association will be taking a
position on this issue in the near future. El


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